Monthly Archives: March 2017

The CSUN College of Humanities Center for Ethics and Values Presents: International Trade and Immigration in the Age of Trump

Most of the events I pass along are pretty far from my own expertise, so it isn’t often that I can attest to their quality.

Happily, in this case, I am acquainted with both speakers’ excellent work. It thus my pleasure to pass along this announcement of a two lecture series:

“Reproduction as Resistance at the Mexico-U.S. Border: A Philosophical and Ethnographic Assessment”

Amy Reed-Sandoval, Assistant Professor of Philosophand Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Wednesday April 19, 4-6pm, Whitsett Room


“Investor Rights as Nonsense — on Stilts”

Aaron James, Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine

Wednesday May 3, 4-6pm, Whitsett Room

Abstracts and Bios are below:

Amy Reed-Sandoval

Assistant Professor of Philosophand Faculty Affiliate of the Center for Inter-American and Border Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Reed-Sandoval works in political philosophy (particularly the political philosophy of immigration), Latin American and Latin@ philosophy, and philosophies of social identity (with emphasis on race, gender and class). She is working on a book entitled ‘Illegal’ Identity: Race, Class and Immigration Justice.

“Reproduction as Resistance at the Mexico-U.S. Border: A Philosophical and Ethnographic Assessment”


On January 31st, 2017, Donald Trump ordered the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department to prepare a report detailing “the steps they are taking to combat the birth tourism phenomenon”. In so doing, he clearly made reference to the fact that many women from countries such as Mexico travel to the United States to give birth to babies who will then be granted U.S. citizenship as stipulated in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Of course, attacks on this legal practice are nothing new; “anchor baby” rhetoric has long been a core part of anti-Mexican, anti-Latina/o, and anti-immigrant speech and propaganda in the United States. Furthermore, the United States government is legally authorized to deny entry to visibly pregnant non-citizen women if they are deemed “likely to become a public charge”—a discretionary power that has been abused historically as outlined by Eithne Luibheid.

In this paper I employ the tools of philosophy and ethnography to explore, from the perspective of the women who do so, the act of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border while visibly pregnant in order to give birth in the United States. I draw from ethnographic research (particularly semi-structured interviews) I have conducted in December 2016 and January 2017 in Ciudad Juarez and El Paso with women who have crossed the border while pregnant and for this purpose, as well as with prenatal care providers (particularly midwives and OB-GYNs) who serve them on both sides of the border. I argue that the so-called “birth tourism” to which Trump refers is, in fact, is an act of resistance against gendered/sexist anti-immigrant policy in the United States. To make this argument I draw from James Scott’s theory of resistance in Weapons of the Weak, as well as Mariana Ortega’s work in In Between on the interconnectedness of “home,” the “politics of location,” the “multiplicity of the self,” and Latina identity.

Aaron James

Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Irvine

James works in political philosophy, moral theory, and ethics, and is the author of Fairness in Practice: A Social Contract for a Global Economy (OUP, 2012) and Assholes, A Theory of Donald Trump (Penguin, 2016). He has written about Rawls’s constructive method, its neglected realist and interpretive aspects, and its application to social structures within and across major domestic institutions such as international trade. He is planning a book on the morality and political economy of distribution for a world of increasing ecological scarcity and lower growth rates.

“Investor Rights as Nonsense — on Stilts”


This essay is about the recent, post-Nafta surge of bilateral trade agreements that set up investor-state adjudication.  Investor treaties increasingly recognize a right to be compensated for “indirect expropriation.”  This essay argues that certain ideas of foreign “investor rights” exhibit a certain confusion about the very nature of an investment, and the social relations of international trade that give risk-taking its social purpose.  The argument develops both utilitarian and social contract theory positions, and challenges appeals to investor natural rights, especially natural promissory rights.

Watch the BOT meeting

The Board meeting has started, and it is, ahem, lively
The meeting can be viewed here:


Here’s the agenda:

— late edit —

Two things of note:

  1. The BOT voted to approve the tuition increase.
  2. The BOT desperately needs a parliamentarian.

Your help needed; response rates for the Student Survey on Sexual Assault/ Sexual Misconduct Prevention survey

I’m posting the following on behalf of Senator Schutte and the folks doing this important work.

Please help; if we don’t know what is going on, we cannot fix it. 

I write to once again solicit your help in making the Campus Climate Student Survey on Sexual Assault / Sexual Misconduct Prevention, a success.  As you may know, this survey is required by the Department of Education.  To date, we are significantly behind our 2015 response rate numbers.  Therefore, I would request that this week you not only remind the students in each of your classes to participate in this important data collection, but that you further the effort with some incentive for them doing so.  This could be extra credit, a contest (to see who can get the most students to participate), or other meaningful reward.   The link to the survey is contained in the February 13th and 24th letters sent to students by President Harrison. 

Thanks in advance for helping in this campus wide effort.